Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hail Napoleon: Talavera 1809

French: Jim & Barrie v, British & Spanish: Steve

With about 46,000 French v. 20,000 Brits & 35,000 Spanish and good data David Gates' "The Spanish Ulcer" this was a good battle to test progress on my 6mm Napoleonic Big Battle variant of Hail Caesar.  These rules are a simplification of the book rules to allow many more units to be used without brain fade & excessive game time.   We have cherry picked some Black Powder for period feel, but as we did for Hail Cromwell our ECW variant, we generally prefer the Hail Caesar systems to the Pike & Shotte/Black Powder systems where they differ.
The figures are based on 80mm wide bases representing brigades.   This solves the problem of moving the numbers of figures required.  The rules are trimmed back to bare essentials to make combat resolution easier & faster.  In doing so we lose some opportunities for tactical finesse, but this is compensated for by have more divisions on the table & more higher command decisions to make.
The ground scale is 12" = 1 km, or 1m = 2 miles.  The French are on the right.  We used the historical deployment more or less, but then went our own way.
The Brits are lining the river in the centre with Spaniards in the difficult agricultural ground in front of Talavera & also on the far left.
Victor is advancing on the Brits in the centre.  Sebastiani is moving his Corps towards the Spanish in front of Talavera with cavalry in support.  The guard is in reserve & some light cavalry on the far flank.
In the centre Victor has moved up to skirmish range and has engaged the Brits with artillery & skirmishers (the skirmishers are not represented by figures - infantry with skirmisher capability can fire at longer range at reduced effect.
Sebastiani has engaged the Spanish in the fields while the French Cuirassiers have charged the Spanish heavy cavalry next to Talavera.  The Spanish foot is predictably wilting, but their cavalry with the support of British fire across the river is doing surprisingly well.
On the far flank the Spanish infantry and cavalry is on the move& has crossed the river in a move on the French flank.
Sabastiani has broken the Spanish in the fields and they have fled the field.
The Spanish heavy cavalry next to Talavera has also broken, but surprisingly, so have the Cuirassiers they fought - thanks to the flanking fire of the British infantry
In the centre, Victor's LH division was broken by British artillery and skirmish fire, but the rest of the line is holding it's own.
On the far flank, the Spanish light cavalry showed uncharacteristic enthusiasm by galloping over the ridge and charging Victor's flank (after the French reserve which was supposed to be protecting it blundered backwards). They swept away Victor's Hussars, but his infantry got into square and the reserve's counterattack made short work of the Spanish once it got moving.

At this stage it was 9.30 and Barrie's chauffeur was outside, so both sides declared victory & we stopped. But the battle is far from over - given an 8am start it is now after 8 turns only 12 noon.  The Spanish are destroyed, but the Brits are intact and won't mourn their loss much.  The French have significant losses, but still outnumber the Brits.  I played on solo the next day trying out some more rules tweaks & the Brits were defeated - but I cannot say it was an unbiased process.

The rules worked really well in general.  Considering both sides had about a dozen divisions.  Standard HC is designed for armies of 3 or 4 divisions, BP for a few more, but to cope with so many units in a reasonable time frame requires considerable simplification of the rules.  In this test game we got through a lot of action in 2 hours which is pretty good, but I identified a few areas where it could be improved even further.

No comments: